Monday, March 28, 2016

Propaganda and rumors abound as Tripoli situation is unclear

March 22 --The Libya Observer, which supports the Tripoli-based General National Congress, notes that the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has so far failed to enter Tripoli as it claims it will do.

The Observer also claims that some activists are spreading rumors designed to influence public opinion and gain support for the GNA. A recent rumor was that the Grand Mufit Sheikh Sadiq Al-Gharyani is now a strong supporter of the Serraj GNA government and that he asked both the GNC and revolutionary fighters to allow it in to Tripoli. The Mufti has so far been strongly opposed to the GNA. The rumour quickly spread on Twitter:
 Libya Al Hurra ‏@LibyaAlHurraTV 33m33 minutes ago
Libya Al Hurra Retweeted francesco strazzari
#Libya: Widely panned Italian news report saying Gharyiani and Belhaj to clear the road for the GNA in #Tripoli.
Belhaj is a prominent Islamist. At one time he was rendered to Gadaffi's Libya by the CIA. He is an opponent of the GNA. It is quite unlikely that the reports about him supporting the GNA are true but then groups do switch sides. The rumor was picked up and then published by an Italian news agency.
The Observer also notes that there were reports that a pro-GNA group had attacked the GNC and the head of the GNC Nuri Abu Sahmain, members and guards had fled. There was an actual skirmish outside the Jamhouria Bank that is in a district close to the GNC. The Libya Herald that is usually opposed to the GNC nevertheless confirmed the Observer account of what actually happened:The Abu Sleem unit of the Rada (“Deterrance” Forces) have claimed that today’s fighting in central Tripoli’s Bab Ben Ghashir district was the result of an attempt by a militia to take over the branch of the Jumhouriya Bank in the district. It says it has now secured the area.
The Observer also claims that clashes in Camp 77 on Saturday were deliberately misinterpreted:The propaganda machine of UN-imposed government was quick to claim that pro-Sirraj government armed groups were attacking pro-GNC Sumood Force in the camp. In fact, the clashes were between the 6th Force of the Central Security and an armed brigade affiliated with Al-Burki brigade over a wanted killer and had nothing to do with the ongoing political crisis in Libya.One wonders what the purpose would be in the rumor since it would show that the situation in Tripoli is not secure. It is more likely just someone thinking that it must have something to do with the GNA moving to Tripoli. It does nothing to make the public favor the move that I can see.
The Observer also remarks on the ongoing liquidity crisis that has resulted in limiting withdrawals from banks that are open. Many are closed. One of the reasons that the GNA is moving to Tripoli is that it is the headquarters of the Libyan Central Bank. The GNA hopes to gain control of the bank and starve rival governments of funds. It appears that Central Bank head may be cooperating with the GNA. The Observer quotes an anonymous source as claiming that the liquidity crisis is deliberate and is being carried out under instructions from the GNA:"CBL governor Sadiq Al-Kabri is a supporter of the government of national accord and he gave his instructions to limit cash delivery to the banks to provoke a liquidity crisis.This crisis was suddenly provoked when the government of national accord declared its intention to move to Tripoli, and the aim is to make people reject Tripoli government and GNC and demand quick access of GNA to Tripoli to solve this crisis, which actually would be solved quickly if GNA succeed to do so."
The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) had earlier agreed to open $2 billion in letters of credit to import basic goods and medicines and alleviate the shortage of cash. However, this apparently has not happened. The Central Bank governor Sabri is apparently a member of a party associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood supports the GNA although the membership is apparently divided on the issue. It appears that the GNA may be able to turn public opinion against the GNC. There have already been demonstrations against the cash shortage.

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